Asia markets hit as Syria fears spark global sell-off

Market Data

Last Updated at 07:02 ET

Market index Current value Trend Variation % variation
Nikkei 225 18703.60 Down -111.56 -0.59%
ASX All Ords 5871.50 Down -31.40 -0.53%
Hang Seng 24465.38 Down -237.40 -0.96%
SSE Composite 3279.53 Up 16.48 0.51%
SSE SE 50 2397.99 Up 1.19 0.05%
BSE Sensex 29380.73 Down -78.41 -0.27%

Related Stories

Asian stock markets have fallen, extending a global sell-off sparked by growing fears of a military strike against Syria.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Australia's ASX 200 posted losses of more than 1%.

This follows declines in US and European markets on Tuesday.

Speculation of a strike against Syria, also triggered fears over global oil supplies pushing up crude prices to an 18-month high.

Although Syria is not a significant oil producer, there are fears for the stability of the wider Middle East, which produces about a third of the world's oil.

"If Syria becomes drawn out and becomes a long-term issue, it's going to show up in things like gas prices,'' said Chris Costanzo, an investment officer with Tanglewood Wealth Management.

As well as the rise in Brent crude, the price of US crude jumped $3.09 to close at $109.01 a barrel.

'Worst-case scenario'

Start Quote

People worry about this becoming a worst-case scenario and turning into a regional conflict”

End Quote Bill Stone PNC Asset Management

The fears of a strike follow reports of a suspected chemical attack last week near the Syrian capital, Damascus, which reportedly killed more than 300 people.

On Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said that American forces are "ready" to launch strikes if President Barack Obama chooses to order an attack.

President Obama is due to outline future US action on Syria in the coming days.

Analysts said that investors were concerned that the crisis may escalate and result in political and economic instability in the region.

"People worry about this becoming a worst-case scenario and turning into a regional conflict," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management.

On Tuesday, Germany's Dax and the French Cac 40 indexes ended down about 2.5%. In London, the FTSE 100 index closed down by 0.8%.

In the US, the Dow Jones fell 1.1% to 14,776.13, a two-month low.

Meanwhile, gold which is traditionally seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, rose $27 to $1,420 an ounce.

Risk premium

The Middle East contains some of the world's biggest oil producers, along with some important shipping routes.

Brent Crude Oil Futures $/barrel

Last Updated at 04 Mar 2015, 06:45 ET Brent Crude Oil Future one month chart
price change %
60.65 -

Even before the latest developments in Syria, analysts were forecasting higher oil prices, partly because of supply disruptions.

Libya, one of the Arab world's biggest oil producers, has seen its production drop by nearly 60% due to strikes and security concerns.

Analysts said the uncertainty over developments in Syria had added to the worries of oil supplies from the region.

"As the rhetoric ratchets up around Syria, the geopolitical risk premium in the price of oil is once again widening," said Dominick Chirichella, of Energy Management Institute.

Goldman Sachs has raised its short-term forecast for the oil price to $115 a barrel.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

* May require registration or subscription

More Business stories


Features & Analysis

From BBC Capital


  • Kinetic sculpture violinClick Watch

    The "kinetic sculpture" that can replicate digital files and play them on a violin

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.